"European misgivings about American religious dynamics reflect both a traditionalist-right and a secularist-left genealogy and corresponding historical perspectives. While these perspectives are at odds with one another on many levels, their respective narrations of the relationship between modernity and religion, willy-nilly, cast the religio-political character of the United States as ill-conceived, producing an erroneously religious society (Right) or an overly religious one (Left). These narratives owe their formation to the far ends of a distinctly European political spectrum that first took clear shape in the decades following the French Revolution. The traditionalist critique of America derives from a nostalgia for established churches and a host of attendant pre-democratic, culturally organicist sentiments; the United States, in this view, represents a disquieting departure from a more salutary ecclesiastical establishmentariasnim, and a robust exercise of religious freedom has been met warily as indulgence in subjectivism and individualism. On the other hand, European skepticism of American religious life evinces a progressive-secularist mien, insofar as the French tradition of laïcité and various comparable ideologies and intellectual currents informing leftist and socialist thought and, later, secularization theory are invoked, or unconsciously assumed, as the benchmarks for appropriate historical development. In both cases, Right and Left, critics of American religiosity have often regarded the United States simply as the absence of certain specifically European conditions that are regarded as normative, or at least highly desirable. Both views, one might further argue, bear witness to an irrepressible nineteenth-century European mission civilisatrice, with the emerging United States serving Europe at once as poor learner, oafish foil, and didactic counterexample."
--Thomas Albert Howard, God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 23